For residents of the Civic Towers in Allapattah who haven’t been able to return to their apartments and haven’t been relocated to hotels, life just got tougher.
On Wednesday, about 50 tenants of the two towers, which were damaged by Hurricane Irma, were transferred to area hotels.
But at least 60 others were left in limbo.
On Wednesday, Miami police closed the towers’ parking lot at 1855 NW 15th Ave., where many of the tenants spent more than 10 days sleeping in the street and in cars. Gone were the tents, the chairs and stretchers that some had been sleeping on. The three public toilets were moved to a platform outside the lot.
The Miami Workers Center set up a camp with at least seven tents — the largest intended for families with children — so the tenants can spend the next few nights there while they try to resolve their situation.
The residents were displaced when the city deemed the towers, purchased by Redwood Housing Partners in February for $45 million and under reconstruction, were unsafe after the storm. Even before the storm, the federally subsidized project had issues with construction delays and tenants living amid dust, noise and dangling cables and wires.
Irma left the tenants, many of them elderly and not in good health, homeless.
"I'm going to sleep here with my two girls until we solve this situation. We have nowhere else to be. I already spent 10 nights in the car, what is the difference? " said Lorelis Reloba, mother of two girls, 8 and 4.
“They cheated on us last night. Now we are even more on the street. They still treat us like dogs,” said Victor Moreno, 89, one of the neighbors who still hopes to be transferred to a hotel with his 77-year-old wife.
Marcia Oliva, director of the Miami Workers' Center, blamed the situation on the tenants having no one to defend them and “negligent work of politicians and corrupt owners.”
Redwood Housing, in a statement Thursday, defended its actions, saying it had provided housing for more than 50 families on Wednesday and had located an additional 30 hotel rooms on Thursday for residents.
The offices of Sen. Marco Rubio and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado worked with Redwood Housing to secure hotel rooms for the 50.
But moving into the hotels did not go smoothly for everyone. Three tenants said when they arrived at the hotel they did not have rooms in their name and another two said they were assigned a room in a motel for only two days.
"When we arrived in the early hours of Thursday to the hotel in the Doral, we had no room. It was 1 a.m. and I had to go and stay with a friend. This is an abuse,” Janeth Cárdenas said.
Clara Leyva, 75, said she had to sleep in the hotel parking lot because she also did not have a room at the Doral hotel. “I could not even sleep in my car because it was locked in the parking lots of the towers,” she said.
Diosotiz Peña and her 75-year-old mother ended up sleeping in a motel assigned to them by FEMA: “I'm worried about my old lady. It has taken more than 10 days without being able to rest. We need a decent place to live. "
HUD spokeswoman Gloria Shanahan said in a statement that “all tenants will be relocated to temporary housing until the units at Civic Towers are completely renovated and the City of Miami certifies that the buildings are habitable.”
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